25 Inimitable Men 5/25
David Charming (Once Upon A Time)
A man who’ll fight off knights with his infant daughter in his hands and succeed? There’s nothing he can’t do. It’s very seldom that a character lives up to their name as Once Upon A Time’s David Charming does. But funnily, six seasons have passed and we still don’t know his actual last name — did he never have one in the Enchanted Forest? (Lol. Or did Snow name him perfectly?) There’s not a single character who’s been easier to love from the moment they appeared on-screen, and no it’s definitely not due to Josh Dallas’ undeniable charm and unfairly good looks. In a number of ways, Charming is the heart of the family — grounding everyone to a place of unparalleled serenity through his kindness and courage that effortlessly inspired everyone around him. Charming is, in every sense of the word, the bravest soul in Once Upon A Time history — a bravery that isn’t measured by his undeniable gallantry, but rather his honesty, sincerity, and the immovable compassion within him.
There’s a great deal to appreciate about Charming, but his transparency is at the top of the list making him both incredibly admirable and simultaneously flawed. David Charming certainly lives up to his name, but he isn’t perfect thereby, making him inimitable and very, very real. As a shepherd boy, Charming is no stranger to hard work and an appreciation for the little things in life, and as an adult it’s given him better understanding of the world. But the circumstances in his life also forced him to put up his own type of walls. And those walls often led to outbursts that weren’t always kind. However, you knew very well where you stood with him and that’s the kind of thing people don’t often make clear. This is mostly evident with the villains within the series showcasing that in his book, you must be deserving of the respect to receive it. And while Charming’s words aren’t always kind towards characters like Regina and Killian, often times, they’re exactly what they need to hear in order to rise up to their highest potential. Nonetheless, just because Charming isn’t always sugar-coating his emotions, it doesn’t mean that if need be, he’ll refuse to lend a helping hand. He’s the kind of man who’ll always do the right thing whether the receiver is worthy or not. Whatever he’s been, Charming’s been honest and fair. Now while this type of transparency is necessary in the world, it doesn’t mean it’s always the way to go, but point being, he’s never held back, he’s learned, he’s forgiven, and he’s protected.
Charming’s transparency is a trait with some flaws, but his sincerity, the genuine kindness in his heart is unparalleled. When you grow up with very little then are pushed into a life of royalty with an evil figure who’d do anything to threaten your happiness, you’re forced to bend and break in ways no person deserves to. Charming is an incredible husband, the most understanding father, and the most noble deputy because he’s vowed to be sincere through everything life throws at him. But as a result, that sincerity cobbled with the unyielding compassion within him drew in fears that he’d fail at protecting those he loves most. Once Upon A Time has a number of great episodes dedicated to the shepherd boy and his journey towards finding strength, but none bring it full circle as beautifully as “Murder Most Foul”. An episode I appreciated writing about more than I can explain, an episode I don’t know if I’ll ever stop talking about. (Seriously, I’m never going to stop.)
“We learned early on that David’s greatest fear is failure as a father and a husband. He’s often been victim to the idea that he’s somehow never enough and one day, he’ll be the disappointment he believes he is. And it’s real emotions like this that have made me fall in love with this series. While we have one man believing that he’ll never be worthy in the eyes of Prince Charming, the reality is that Prince Charming’s greatest fear is that he’ll never be enough. Now tell me that’s not the most authentic emotion we all face. While we may admire someone for something we believe is incredibly special, they may be crumbling on inside because of that very thing.”
And that final breakdown, the somatic fall of a man who has always been perceived as the strongest of them all was a poetically engulfing display of the power of fear. Fear has been a constant in David’s life because of the amount of responsibility he has taken upon himself, and slowly, it has terrorized him until this final confrontation with himself. The affirmation that he’s terrified and encompassed with the belief that he may not be enough — a moment which reminded me a lot of Emma’s breakdown in “Nimue”. Serving as one of the most powerful moments in Once Upon A Time history, we watched David fall on his knees. […] It’s never easy to be vulnerable, but the representation of surrendering that the scene painted was cathartic and beautiful. There’s a reason that we pray on our knees — a manner of release in a purely innocent moment of giving our all to God. And for David, this was a moment where he gave in to all the pain by letting go of the image of Prince Charming. In that moment, he wasn’t Prince Charming, he was David, a shepherd boy who’d just learned that his father truly loved him. A shepherd boy who allowed himself to fall in order to rise higher than ever before.
It’s important that we acknowledge our mistakes, and that’s what David did as he apologized to Killian for what he had made him do. And one thing Once Upon A Time has always been good at is the exhibition of heartfelt apologies. As a perfect example of the fact that our vulnerabilities don’t weaken us, the fact that Killian saw David at his lowest, but still believed that he sets the highest standard, as Prince Charming was brilliant. A truly brilliant reminder of the fact that we are not defined by the moments we fall, but rather the choices we make in our lives. And our vulnerabilities, no matter how big or small do not showcase weakness, but rather the amount of strength it takes to confront all that’s within us to be freed from the crosses we carry.”
“Murder Most Foul” exhibited raw human emotions in a way Once Upon A Time‘s extremely gifted in, but it mainly brought us much closer to understanding Charming’s heart, the struggles within him and the demons he’s often battling while he armors those he cares for. But it’s this episode which also strengthened him in a way that showed exclusive character development for a soul that was already inimitable. No character is without flaws, but time and time again Charming has tried to be noble, just, and true. He’s tried tirelessly to rise above the challenges with lasting, honorable solutions. He’s given love far more than he’s expected to receive it. He’s been the kind of person who’s set examples through the life he’s lived allowing people to see that humbleness and strength could go hand in hand in a successful life. An example of the perfect husband and the most exceptional father/grandfather. There’s an endless amount to appreciate about Charming — a character words don’t do justice. A character who’s so good, you can’t not adore him. A character you need to convince yourself to wrap up talking about or you’ll find yourself writing a novel. And for six years, Josh Dallas has delivered one impeccable performance after another rising to every challenge with innate understanding and acute embodiment of a character whose shoes are difficult to fill. There could be no other David Charming, without Josh Dallas, he’d be lifeless words on a page preaching words of wisdom that everyone could do. Dallas has layered the character beautifully with the continuous delivery of a wide range of emotions, which allowed us to see behind the eyes of an honorably damaged man with an abundance of love to give and bravery far more admirable than he could ever imagine.
- “There’s always going to be people in this world that want you to give up. Don’t make their jobs any easier.”
- “True love isn’t easy, but it must be fought for because once you find it, it can never be replaced.”
- Life is made up of moments, good ones, bad ones, but they’re all worth living.”